Interactive effects of social support and social conflict on medication adherence in multimorbid older adults

Lisa M. Warner, Benjamin Schüz, Leona Aiken, Jochen P. Ziegelmann, Susanne Wurm, Clemens Tesch-Römer, Ralf Schwarzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


With increasing age and multimorbidity, medication regimens become demanding, potentially resulting in suboptimal adherence. Social support has been discussed as a predictor of adherence, but previous findings are inconsistent. The study examines general social support, medication-specific social support, and social conflict as predictors of adherence at two points in time (6 months apart) to test the mobilization and social conflict hypotheses. A total of 309 community-dwelling multimorbid adults (65-85 years, mean age 73.27, 41.7% women; most frequent illnesses: hypertension, osteoarthritis and hyperlipidemia) were recruited from the population-representative German Ageing Survey. Only medication-specific support correlated with adherence. Controlling for baseline adherence, demographics, physical fitness, medication regimen, and attitude, Time 1 medication-specific support negatively predicted Time 2 adherence, and vice versa. The negative relation between earlier medication-specific support and later adherence was not due to mobilization (low adherence mobilizing support from others, which over time would support adherence). Social conflict moderated the medication-specific support to adherence relationship: the relationship became more negative, the more social conflict participants reported. Presence of social conflict should be considered when received social support is studied, because well-intended help might have the opposite effect, when it coincides with social conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Germany
  • Medication adherence
  • Medication-specific social support
  • Multimorbidity
  • Received social support
  • Social conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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